Today's Medical News From Newspapers, TV, Radio and the Journals.
In the New York Times (12/2, D7) Personal Health column, Jane E. Brody writes, "Now that the role of acid reflux is well known in cancer risk and unpleasant conditions like chronic cough and hoarseness, drug companies market several products, prescription and over the counter, that are far better able to control the backup of stomach acid than milk of magnesia. And, gastroenterologists now know to be on the alert for early signs of trouble among patients who suffer from GERD," or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Typically, "the cancer that results from chronic reflux is preceded by a benign condition called Barrett's esophagus, a cellular abnormality of the esophageal lining that can become precancerous." If it is "diagnosed early, well before patients develop swallowing problems, esophageal cancer is usually curable. A cure is most certain if the problem is detected and corrected before or during the advanced precancerous stage." Yet, "for about 90 percent of patients, early detection and treatment are missed, and the outcome is fatal."